Illustrating the Westminster Shorter Catechism
I have posted previously about the illustrations from John Whitecross on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Recently in our family devotions, considering the eighth commandment, we read this fascinating account of an incident in the life of George Whitefield, one of the finest preachers ever to have lived.
The Catechism question and answer (number 75) go like this:
Q. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour’s wealth or outward estate.
Here is Whitecross’ account of the incident. As you read it, keep in mind that the value of one guinea in those days was considerable, perhaps equivalent to well over $100.00.
A widow with a large family was in difficulty over the payment of her rent and her landlord decided to sell her furniture to obtain the sum due to him. George Whitefield learned of her sad plight and gave her the five guineas which she so badly needed. A friend at hand told Whitefield that he could not afford this act of generosity. He replied, “When God brings a case of distress before us, it is that we may relieve it.”
The two men shortly took their journey together, and before long encountered a highwayman who relieved them of their money. Whitefield now turned the tables on his friend, reminding him how much better it was for the widow to have the five guineas than the highwayman. After their loss, the two resumed their journey. Soon, however, the highwayman returned and demanded Whitefield’s coat which was so much better than his own. Whitefield of necessity accepted the robber’s ragged garment until he could get a better.
Presently the same highwayman was for a third time seen galloping furiously towards them, but they spurred on their horses and reached shelter and safety without being overtaken. The robber was doubtless immensely mortified, for when Whitefield took off the tattered coat he found in one of the pockets a small parcel containing a hundred guineas.
The Shorter Catechism Illustrated, John Whitecross, London, Banner of Truth, Page 117